Sunday, 14 November 2010
"Dangerous to Know" by Tasha Alexander
Page count: 320 pages
Rating: 2 stars
Date begun: November 11th, 2010
Date finished: November 13th, 2010
WARNING! CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THE LADY EMILY SERIES!
Lady Emily Hargreaves is in Normandy, trying to recover from her near-death experience during her honeymoon in Constantinople. Her loving husband, Colin, has taken her to his mother's house to recuperate and regain her strength, but when she comes across a brutally murdered young woman while out riding, it is clear that the area is not as peaceful as they had hoped. The girl has been brutalized a manner reminiscent of the Jack the Ripper murders a few years back in London, and Colin and the local police are concerned that the killer may not be satisfied with just one victim.
Emily is troubled with guilt and grief after losing their unborn baby when she was nearly killed saving a young girl from a brutal killer. There are rumours in the area that the ghost of a motherless girl haunts the countryside, and when Emily starts hearing the cries of a child, and occasional glimpses of a little girl with a blue ribbon, she starts to doubt her own sanity. Her relationship with her mother-in-law is less than excellent, as the formidable Mrs. Hargreaves clearly feels Emily's unworthy of her son and treats her with a cold disdain. The appearance of her old friend, Cecile du Lac, and the re-appearance in the area of the gentleman thief, Sebastian Capet, cheer her spirits to some extent, but she cannot rest until she manages to solve the murder of the poor girl she found.
It turns out that the girl, Edith, had escaped from a mental asylum, and her mother is an old school friend of Cecile's. When they go to talk to the family, it is clear that poor Edith lived a dramatic life, and had also heard the cries of a little girl and seen a ghostly child in the days before she was committed. Her twin brother Laurent is furious about the whole thing, and his brooding and obsessive closeness with his sister seem very suspicious. Colin seems reluctant to let Emily continue the detective efforts she has previously reveled in, worried that she will be put in danger yet again. He wants her safe and protected, and this causes tension in their marriage.
Dangerous to Know is the fifth Lady Emily mystery, and just as good and suspenseful a read as the previous ones. I must admit that I was distressed by the marital tension between Colin and Emily, and while his reactions were completely understandable, his heavy-handed ordering about of Emily made me unhappy. Although even at his most controlling, he would have been super progressive as a Victorian husband, letting his wife study ancient languages and gallivant about the countryside with known art thieves, it felt wrong for him to try to limit Emily's involvement with the detecting. I also knew that things would probably sort themselves out in the end, and their marriage would be as close and comforting as it was in the previous novel.